Can you Plan to be Spontaneous?

By nature, I enjoy being spontaneous and would rather fly by the seat of my pants than sit down and make a plan for anything – be it a vacation, work project, or an important area of my life.

So when I finished writing the third in a series of posts on how to reach your full potential (Create Your Own Personal Development Plan), I realized that some people just hate the thought of sitting down and mapping out a strategy for their life.  They’d prefer to just let it happen spontaneously.

If that’s you, believe me, I’m with you. But over the years, I’ve discovered that a bit of planning can help me live a more spontaneous life. I know, it sounds paradoxical, but stay with me and I’ll explain.

Take the life area of finances as an example.  If I had my way, I’d just spend my money as I see fit, when I see fit.  I’d eat out for lunch every day and buy every deal that is so great I “can’t afford NOT to buy it”.  The problem, of course, is that I end up with more month left at the end of my money.

I’ve discovered (albeit slowly and sometimes painfully) that a little bit of planning (you might call it budgeting) can give me the freedom, within pre-determined boundaries, to be as spontaneous as I’d like to be. When I’ve budgeted or saved the money in advance, I can buy whatever I want within that limit and not feel guilty that I’ve gone overboard or have gotten into debt.

I think most of us can appreciate how planning is advantageous when it comes to finances, but what about in other life areas, like our careers?

What if you hate your job and would gladly do anything else?  Or, suppose a great opportunity comes your way?  Do you spontaneously go with your gut?  Here too I’ve found that planning helps.

Two years ago, I was faced with a career decision when an opportunity unexpectedly came my way.  I was very happy where I was, and could have easily said no thanks.  Or, I could have quickly said yes, just for the challenge of doing something new.  Either decision could have been fine but would have been made for the wrong reason…or should I say…for no reason, if I had no context within which to make the decision.

Gratefully, I had previously taken the time to clarify my life’s purpose and think through my values, dreams, and hopes for the future.  With a bit of thought, and some encouragement from mentors, I was able to see that the new opportunity would move me several steps closer to those dreams, and allow me to have a greater impact in a cause I believed in.  That bit of advance planning gave me the confidence and freedom to make a great decision fairly quickly.

What about the day-to-day decisions that come our way?  My experience has been that I can respond to most of them quicker and easier (and without the worry or fear of making the wrong choice) when I know who I am, what my purpose is, and what I’m called to do in order to live out that purpose.

Has anyone else experienced freedom and spontaneity that came as a result of planning ahead?  Or, if this concept is new to you, do you think it has any value for you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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